Study Says Most Leaf Batteries Are Fine

Edmunds reports:

The base 2013 Nissan Leaf S starts at $29,650, including an $850 destination charge, reflecting a $6,400 price cut over the base 2012 Nissan Leaf. …

The midrange 2013 Nissan Leaf SV starts at $32,670, including shipping.

The top-of-the-line 2013 Nissan Leaf SL starts at $35,680, including shipping.

Nissan North America said that available federal and state incentives can bring the price of the 2013 Leaf S down to less than $19,000.

Instead of adding a cooling system for their batteries, Nissan has cut costs. That probably sounds bone-headed to customers in Arizona, but according to Green Car Reports, a survey of owners finds that most Leafs are doing fine without a cooling system.

A spate of owners in Arizona discovered they were quickly losing battery capacity, far earlier than Nissan suggested it might happen–the hot climate was playing havoc with battery life.

Luckily for worried Leaf owners, those ‘wilting Leafs’ were the exception, rather than the rule. A new survey from Plug In America reveals that the majority of Leaf owners have lost very little capacity–if any.

… there seems to be very little correlation between capacity loss and quick charging–many of those with lost bars have quick charged fewer than ten times, yet one owner with over 70 quick charges hasn’t lost a single bar.

Battery health tests seem to back this up–most reporting a clean bill of health, regardless of the quick charging frequency.

Several other factors all proved fairly inconclusive as far as battery health is concerned.

As a result, it seems fairly clear–temperature is the number one factor in battery capacity loss. Those living in hotter climates are considerably more likely to lose capacity, regardless of mileage–yet it’s quite possible for drivers in cooler climates to do quite high mileages before seeing any significant deterioration–contrary to Nissan’s original presumptions on capacity loss.

That, to me, is good news. It validates the test results that the MyNissanLeaf Range Test Rangers found in Arizona, but makes the Leaf a far better prospect for urban drivers in moderate climates. I’d still opt for the lease, though, which is reportedly $199/month for three years – though I haven’t found that offered at the Nissan site.

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